How To Create the Perfect Instagram Shot

I get asked on a daily basis what apps I use to edit my Instagram pictures so decided to create a post on it.  Instagram is fast becoming the number 1 social media app and I predict it may soon overtake Twitter in the number of account holders.  Personally for me it’s my favourite social media platform and I tend to spend more time browsing through Instagram than Twitter.  I am quite protective when it comes to the content I put on Instagram and never upload ‘on a whim’.  After all, as a blogger, Instagram is part of my job and it’s overall look is important to my followers but also the brands that I chose to represent and include on my feed.  I got inspired to create this post after reading In The Frow’s post about photo editing and hope that you guys like the tips and tricks I give you.

It all begins with lighting.  This is the MOST IMPORTANT part of creating the perfect photo for Instagram.  Natural light is always the best option, if not then studio lighting that doesn’t create a shadow is also really good.  If you made a list of your top 10 favourite selfies that you’ve seen on Instagram, I would put money on them all having great lighting, no matter how many different filters they may have used as well! Below are 2 examples of photos that I have taken, 1 with the perfect lighting and the other with not so great lighting.

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There was no natural light when I took the first photo as it was in the evening and that reflects in the final pic, however the photo of the waffles clearly has natural light on it so makes the photo look instantly brighter and more interesting.

However, if you want to take a photo somewhere where the light isn’t ideal (restaurants always seem to have bad lighting which is frustrating because food pics can be so great for an Instagram feed!) then there are apps you can use to lighten the photo.  One of my favourite apps for this is Afterlight. In fact I use Afterlight for pretty much all of my photo editing however it is particularly good at balancing the lighting, contrast, temperature and clarity of a photo.  It costs 79p but it is the best app I have ever bought and makes my Instagram what it is!  Check out the photos below of before and after using Afterlight.

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I have cropped the photo to add more focus onto the shoes so they fill up the entire frame and increased the lighting, clarity and contrast which is explained in more detail below.

After lightening my photos to the correct level, I then up the contrast to make the colours in the photo stand out a bit more.  I love vibrant photos and with blogging I think that it is important to show products true to the eye, where as sometimes the colours can get lost in a photo so by upping the contrast it is clearer to see the true colour of a product.  This is followed by ‘clarifying’ the photo.  It’s not always necessary and sometimes if I don’t do this I will ‘sharpen’ it slightly instead just to give the image a crisper look.

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The editing on the photo above is very minimal but I have slightly lightened it and defined it as the messy bed sheets can distract from the main focus of the photo which is the food (and my strategically placed leg position!)

Next comes filters.  On Afterlight there are so many choices, plus extras that you can buy and they also give the option to create your own ‘personal’ filter using other filters and mixing them together.  A few bloggers I know do this so that every single photo has exactly the same filter on it and their Instagram feed looks identical throughout.  I personally don’t do this because my photos vary so much that for me, different filters suit different photos.  My 2 personal favourites are ‘finn’ and ‘russ’ although I sometimes use ‘olive’ too if it suits the style of the photo.  I love the black and white filters too and tend to use those for throwback photos of nostalgia shots of good memories.

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I have used a B&W filter in the first photo which is with my friends at a music festival, in the second pic I havse used a lighting effect (also available on Afterlight) it allows you to add a strobe effect and also a slight ‘dust’ on your images to give them an aged look.  The final photo has been created using ‘russ’ to give it a matte look.

Finally, my borders.  I have been using borders on Instagram for a while and over that time they have varied from thick borders to a mixture of landscape and portrait photos to finally settling on the thin white borders that I have now.  My borders are very subtle but for me it’s a good way to separate my photos a bit more than having no border and just finishes of the photo nicely in my opinion.  I create these borders on Afterlight as well – I told you I literally use this app for everything!  There is a tab where you can add borders and choose the shape so it can be a circular border, oval, hexagon or even a heart shape or the outline of a letter of a photo.  There are so many choices it’s unreal!  As well as Afterlight I know that Instasize is a great app for adding borders too, I used Instasize for this photo here.  Most photo editing apps allow you to add borders but double check before buying an app that it does everything you want it to, a good way to find out what the app is really like is to read blog posts (like this one!) or to google and see what people are saying about the app.


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The different borders that I have used in the past, all created using Afterlight (centre)

Here is a recent selfie taken from my Instagram page. You can see a clear difference and hopefully you think that the ‘after’ shot looks better!

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 The filter evens out my skin tone and seems to highlight the naturally lighter parts of the photo.  This is only possible though because the photo was taken using good lighting to begin with!

I hope that this helps you if you’re looking to up the ante with you Instagram or blog photos.  Let me know if this post has been helpful by tweeting me @idlelaneloves or even better, tag me in your edited photos on Instagram for me to see how you’ve edited your pic (my Instagram is @dcp1006).  Happy Snapping xxx

Whilst we’re on the topic of social media, come and find me on all my social channels if you haven’t already

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